DJ Muggs, the stellar founder/producer/DJ of the famed hip hop group, Cypress Hill, creates a drastic diversion with the release of this down-tempo, dark, rock-edged album, appropriately titled Dust. In no way, as some would predict, is this close to anything resembling a hip hop album. Muggs himself, may have proven to us over the years with his projects outside of Cypress Hill such as Juxtapose (with Tricky) and Soul Assassins Chapters 1 & 2, that his very existence in the music business, even when experimental, always thrived on a strong hip hop foundation. But on this release, he breaks away from his peers, and runs to another side. Even though some would dare to compare Dust to Portishead’s groundbreaking self-titled album, an album introduced to the hip hop massive with much love reciprocated, still there isn’t an obvious link as with the direct hip hop feel within Portishead’s masterpiece.
The beats that one would still hope to find sticking out from the bottom of Dust’s haziness throughout can only be found on a few cuts Muggs produces here. Forget about any true emceeing on this project, unless you’re resorting to the only offerings on “Fat City” featuring the Rolling Stones-like style of rapping by Greg Dulli, or on “Gone for Good” featuring Everlast. Even though the gritty beat on “Believer” or on “Morta” both featuring Amy Trujillo is enough to make a true Cypress Hill fan get a hard-on, most of the productions here are geared towards Rock lovers, or those that favor the darker side to the down-tempo or lounge music scene. It seems like everything nowadays gets the hip hop tag, or gets lumped into being associated with the culture, even if a small essence of it presents itself. But let’s set the record center, there isn’t too much to directly associate Dust with, when it comes to the hip hop’s main ingredients. Although “Faded” featuring Josh Todd stands out as one of the tracks pushing a bass line so fitting, rappers may gather around to fight over it, the rock-guitar shock waves provide too many armors for the hip hopper to bare. Whether being lured into the gloomy settings of the rhythmic night on “I Know” featuring the pore-raising vocals of Amy Trujillo, these ghostly glides over Muggs’ haunting mood, is like a soundtrack to Cypress Hill’s grave-sight. The path through the 14-track graveyard is filled with bizarre visions of short interludes such as on “Blip” or “Niente,” where computer hard-drives seem to be coming to life. On others like “Shadows” and “Cloudy Days”, Muggs’ mind-set never seems to include thoughts of the sunshine, forever dwelling in the night feel of his productions.
On cuts like “Rain” featuring Josh Todd, the country music feel of folk guitars strumming along to its mid-tempo pace creates a perfect picture of open fields, very contrary to the city center. Muggs on this one perfectly demonstrates his escape from the hip hop world. Together with Todd’s vocals and a choir of children chanting the chorus near the end, Muggs makes a nice escape through the rain.
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